Active SELF, with Folkestone & District Mind

Nine months ago, Shepway Sports Trust sat down with the team at Mind to discuss sport and mental health. The evidence surrounding physical activity and the benefits on your mental wellbeing is unquestionable – however, what opportunities were currently available for local people who struggle with their mental health?

Shepway Sports Trust worked alongside Mind to create the Active SELF programme, specially designed to encourage anybody living with a mental health condition to try something new and get involved. Sessions were centred on being inclusive and friendly, with an emphasis on being social and making friends. The programme was kindly funded and supported by Matthew Scott, the Kent Police & Crime Commissioner and Live Well Kent.

In September 2018, Active SELF was launched with an open afternoon attended by Shepway Sports Trust and Mind ambassador, Jack Green. We talked about the kinds of sports we liked, whether now or in the past, and we listened to stories from Jack – who, despite being a double olympian, has had to battle through periods of depression in the past.

Our Active SELF timetable continues to grow; with pilates, yoga and football to name just a few. Participants meet regularly for tea and coffee and we’ve used our community minibus to go to the White Cliffs of Dover for a walk.

Here’s what Sharon, Community Activities Coordinator, at Folkestone Mind had to say:

“I have been in post as the Community Activities Coordinator for Folkestone Mind for eleven years and have never experienced so many service users engaging in sports and physical activities. Shepway Sports Trust have proved how much of a barrier financial hardship is in preventing people suffering from mental health from accessing sports facilities.

 The non judgemental and inclusive ethos of the Shepway Sports Trust team has made our vulnerable clients feel safe, accepted and valued. This has resulted in a significant increase in confidence and independence. Individuals are accessing the gym and classes on a regular basis.

 The classes and gym memberships have definitely motivated our clients to lead healthier lifestyles. The opportunity to excercise has led  to people eating a healthier diet , losing weight and making healthier choices.

 Social isolation is one of the biggest issues for those experiencing mental health issues. Shepway Sports Trust have created an environment where people can socialise as well as access sports and physical activities. Our clients are thriving in an environment where they can make friends and support one another.

 It is notoriously difficult to motivate people suffering from depression and anxiety to participate in activities. The passion and commitment of the Shepway Sports Trust towards those experiencing mental health issues has made such a difference. People are attending regularly and this is giving people structure, social interaction and a reason to get up in the morning.

 The activities offered by Shepway Sports Trust are going a long way towards improving people’s quality of life and well being . This in turn is helping people on their journey of recovery. Learning new things , being active and feeling part of something are all extremely valuable tools in raising self esteem and feelings of self worth. 

 Being able to talk about possible future outdoor activities has really given our clients something to look forward to. Cycling, watersports  and walks in particular are such an exciting prospect and would encourage younger people with mental health issues to engage.

 Folkestone Mind would like to thank Shepway Sports Trust for their valuable contribution in helping reduce stigma and for providing such an essential and successful element of our well being programme. We are thrilled to be working in partnership with an organisation who embraces and understands  our ethos and what we are striving to achieve.”

We are delighted to announce that Matthew Scott has chosen to continue to fund Shepway Sports Trust’s work in the local community for a further year, granting £13,500 to continue to develop Active SELF and set up Goodgym in Folkestone & Hythe.

If you would like to join us, please contact email contact@shepwaysportstrust.org or get in touch via our website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.